streets. Cobblestone roads and horse drawn buggies mirror not only the heritage of the cosmopolitan museum city, but like Disneyland, the image of an industrialized Southeast at its peak, which was predicated on the trade of human beings. Walking the neighborhoods of old colonial mansions, one witnesses the south's yearning to hold on to this period in time and space — to mime and replicate this era as a tourist destination. It would be a mistake to view this museum city as a form of mere tourism, mere simulacra, and illusion. There are values attached to reconstruction that are hardly illusive; values continue to shape the culture of reconstruction and human behavior toward others. This industrial museum is perpetuated by reconstruction, the continuation of segregation, class division, and the construction of a theme park called Charleston. The paradox of restoration is that industrial society is busy attempting to preserve its past by simulating a denaturing nature and community. At the same time that nature is being transformed into parks, wilderness and zoos, human beings propose to restore the "real" to the world that no longer exists. In reference to the relational qualities of a community and the self-organizing capacity of all life, human beings are unable to mime and simulate the fundamental ecological characteristic of self-organizing systems no matter how technologically sophisticated engineers become. Engineers produce a pig with a human heart. This twisted reproduction creates new sudden smells, crawling bodies with mechanical limbs, and B-movie science fiction, but these are not community- oriented simulations. With a refined and highly engineered commodity fetish, the spiritual essence of the living world is overshadowed by the obsession for new mechanical and electronic goods. Industrial simulation becomes a process of forgetting community. The fingers of life go numb, our relationship to the community fades. To summarize, the sounds of machines simulate the sounds of spring and birds while the real spring bird migration diminishes. The sounds of the spring run off are missing while the sounds of hydropower development fill the air. There is a profound sense of hyperreality to our mechanical world.10 Restoring a primary nature to its substantive form, its original ecological substance, its referential being is doomed to fail in a global economy. Industrialized environments are now recognized as primary nature while our specific bioregion is perceived as secondary nature. Because there are few signs of original nature left, restoration can quickly become yet another simulated form of hyperreality to foster global economy. If you're intimate with a place, a place with whose history you're familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: The place knows you're there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off; abandoned.11 To find a meaning of community and to live in a place during this
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- Winter '16
- Jeff Hannan
- organic life, Georges Bataille, Bataille